So Far, So Good (Mostly) With Mozy

So I’ve been using Mozy for a little over a month now, and so far I’m pretty pleased with it. It did take a while to do the initial backup, but that’s to be expected – I do have a lot of data to back up!

I liked the fact that I could schedule Mozy to run at “reduced speed” during the work day when I’m using my computer – that was, in fact, a deal-buster. I need all of my bandwidth when I work!!

That said, there was one minor annoyance with Mozy – although I didn’t realize it was Mozy at first.

I had noticed that when I selected several files in Windows Explorer, and went to right-click them, Explorer would freeze up for up to 30 seconds. At first I just thought it was because the files I was currently selecting were on a remote server, but later I noticed the same thing was happening with local files as well.

Well, I’m no stranger to troubleshooting strange things in Windows, so I broke out some tools – namely, Process Monitor and Process Explorer. With these two tools, I was able to see that… Explorer was taking a long time to process my request. Digging in a little bit deeper, I saw that it was a shell extension to Explorer that was consuming all the time. Tracking it down was a little tricky since I’d never done shell extensions, but eventually the trail lead to… Mozy.

OK, so Mozy is slowing things down. I could understand why – whenever I opened the configuration screen for Mozy, it always took forever to open. I don’t know why, but I can guess – it’s connecting to the on-line service and reading a whole bunch of stuff, both from the on-line service and from my computer (presumably refreshing the list of files to be backed up, which is quite extensive). Now, why it was doing this when I right-clicked I don’t know – after all, I don’t know how their shell extension is written – but at least I knew what was causing the problem. Now I just needed to figure out how to fix it.

A quick web search didn’t turn up much, but there were a few hints about other people having the same problem, and a solution that was mentioned, but wasn’t explained.

To save people the trouble of hunting for the answer, I’ll just come out and say it. I found the setting that needs to be turned off after digging around a bit – basically, you turn off the shell extension feature of Mozy. While this might be a turn-off for some, for me it’s not a big deal. I don’t need to restore files often enough that I’d need a shell extension for it.

You can find the option by right-clicking your Mozy icon and choosing “Configure.” Then, click on the “Options” tab and check “Don’t show restore menu in Windows Explorer.” For good measure, I also checked “Don’t show MozyHome Remote Backup virtual drive in My Computer.”

After making those two changes, the problem went away – my right-clicks on multiple files were as speedy as ever. And I don’t miss the functionality I turned off, so it’s all good for me!

Hopefully this will help other people who’ve experienced the same symptoms. And perhaps Mozy will figure out why it slows down so much and fix the problem – though I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that it might not be easy – or even possible, given the circumstances. But oh well.

If you’re interested in my earlier post on Mozy, click here.

Online Backup with Mozy

It’s a classic tale – a computer person who knows better, knows he (or she) should have a backup, but doesn’t. The results are often quite tragic. Until recently, I was one of those people. I knew I needed a backup system, but I just didn’t get around to making one. And really, without a backup, you’re just counting the time until a disaster occurs.

Part of the problem with setting up a backup system is, frankly, laziness. Backups have traditionally been somewhat labor intensive (or, alternatively, expensive). Generally speaking, my (realistic) options were:

Do a weekly (!!!) backup to DVDs. Not practical because, frankly, I’ve got a shitload of data and it would take dozens of DVDs to hold it all. And even though they’re cheap, DVDs are not free. And really, who has the time to sit and burn dozens of 4 GB DVDs on a weekly (or even monthly) basis? Not me!

Buy an external hard drive (or two). Not practical because hard drives still cost money and aside from a bit of redundancy, I’d really like to have my data be “safe.” Which means off-site. Which means using the trick of buying 2 (or more!) of the exact same type of hard drive and swapping them out on a regular basis, with one stored off-site somewhere safe. This is also not practical because… where am I going to store it? And who has the time to swap disks out all the time, then drive somewhere to keep them safe? (The “classic” alternative, the tape backup, has the same pitfalls as this hard drive solution, and is even more expensive.)

Backup data online. Until very recently, this was not practical because of 2 reasons: #1 – the Internet was too slow and #2 – you couldn’t buy storage space online at a reasonable cost. Thankfully, that has now changed, thanks to – you guessed it – Mozy.

Basically, I chose Mozy for 3 reasons:

  1. Secure backup
  2. Fair price
  3. Runs as a background process

So far, I’m pretty impressed. The setup is easy and the configuration is simple as well – but there are options if you want them (as I do). I like the fact that I can set Mozy up to run at a reduced speed during the day, and to stop backing up if my CPU usage goes above a certain threshold. And it just keeps running in the background, pretty much no matter what I’m doing, which is nice. And so far, I haven’t noticed any performance hit because of it – it’s like it’s not even there.

Of course, my backup is estimated to take about 7 days to complete – but then again, I am backing up a rather large amount of data! (Mozy puts it at about 26 GB – that’s 26 GB of photos, videos, music, documents, 10 years of email, programming projects, game data, and a few other things I can’t quite remember.)

Still, there’s something strangely comforting about knowing my data will be backed up soon. Even if my house burns to the ground, I’ll be able to recover pretty much everything – and that’s what a good backup is supposed to provide.

So, for $4.99/month (which gives you unlimited storage space to back up as much or as little as you like), if you’ve got a fast Internet connection and a lot of data you don’t want to lose, I’d highly recommend Mozy. Because not having a backup can be a lot more expensive – and believe me when I say you’ll really only appreciate that after you’ve lost years of irreplaceable data.

Don’t wait – backup today!